Pelosi: 'This President Has Been So Respectful ... to Republicans'

By Elizabeth Harrington | March 7, 2013 | 2:14 PM EST

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Presidnet Barack Obama (AP Photo)

( - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Barack Obama has “tried so hard to listen, to accommodate, to be respectful of” the Republicans in Congress.

Following dinner with 12 Republican senators on Wednesday night, President Obama is meeting with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for lunch on Thursday in attempts to reach out to Republicans on Capitol Hill.

During her weekly press conference, Pelosi was asked if the reason Congress and the White House have failed to reach a “grand bargain” was due to Obama’s “not reaching out" to rank-and-file Republicans.

If the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

“This president has been so respectful, given so much time to the Republicans and their views to the point that at one time in one of our meetings I said to the president, ‘Mr. President, I’m busy, and I don’t have any more time for this,’” Pelosi said. “‘You have to be the busiest person in the world. If and when they come up with a new idea why don’t we just call you back into the room?’”

“Because he has tried so hard to listen, to accommodate, to be respectful of their points of view,” she said. “No, I do not think this is why we didn’t reach a grand bargain.

“I think we didn’t reach a grand bargain because the Speaker of the House [John Boehner] walked away from an agreement that he and the president had arrived at probably because he couldn’t see it to his own caucus,” Pelosi said. “And I don’t care what anybody else says about that.”

Obama’s meeting with congressional Republicans comes following the implementation of the sequester, across-the-board spending reductions, that took effect on March 1.

The president had held several campaign-style rallies insisting that dealing with the sequester include raising taxes on the wealthy in the form of closing tax loopholes, despite securing a rate increase on Americans earning $400,000 or more earlier this year.

Obama held one face-to-face meeting with congressional leaders on the sequester, which lasted for seven minutes on the day it took effect.

Obama accused Republicans of choosing to protect the wealthy over “our kids’ schools.”

“Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners?” Obama charged before the cuts took effect. “Are they really willing to slash military health care and the border patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies?” he said.

Boehner said Friday he is hopeful that talks between Obama and Republicans will be productive.

“You know we went through months of campaign style events all over the country, and I did have a conversation with the president about last Friday,” he said. “And it was really kind of interesting that this week we’ve gone 180 [degrees].

“After being in office for 4 years, he’s actually going to sit down and talk to members,” Boehner said. “I think it’s a sign—a hopeful sign, and I’m hopeful that something will come out of it.

“But if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don’t think we’re going to get very far,” Boehner said.